44 Tiny Acrobats – Sylvia Bishop

I firstly want to thank the people at Little Tiger for gifting me a copy of this book to review.

Reader Age – 6 to 9 years

Pages – 192

When Fry’s Circus of Wonders pitches its tent opposite Betsy’s house, Betsy feels a strange sense of longing. But Grandad can’t even bear to look at it – it stirs up too many painful memories of Grandma’s days as a circus performer.

As her parents rally round Grandad, Betsy slips away to see the show. But Betsy isn’t the only one enjoying the spectacle – her forty-four mice have escaped and seem intent on joining in! As the mice gatecrash the magic act, disaster strikes and Betsy finds herself facing up to the odious ringmaster with a lot of explaining to do…

This is the second book in the 44 Tiny Secrets series. However, I managed to read and enjoy the entire book without having read the first. From what I can understand, the first book provides the insight as to how and why Betsy acquired 44 mice, but the second book is perfectly fine to read as a standalone novel. One of the details I really loved was how there are 44 mice, so that each have 2 keys each on a piano. The mice are all named after the keys they are allocated to, for example ‘F-to-F Sharp’. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t mention too much about the mice and their piano key names – I think to understand that, it would be a case of reading book one first.

Betsy’s mice are super well trained. They can do handstands and somersaults – something you wouldn’t expect from your average mouse! When the circus came to town, Betsy was really intrigued about it and wanted to go and watch the performance for herself, but that wasn’t as easy as it looked. Betsy lives with her parents and grandad, and her grandma actually left to join that exact circus. Her family don’t really talk about her grandma, but her grandad became instantly quite upset when he saw them setting the circus tents up on the common by their house. An opportunity arises for Betsy to slip into the circus one night when her dad is visiting his aunt and his mum and grandad have gone to watch a show and she takes her 44 tiny mice with her. As she’s watching the circus show, she doesn’t realise that her mice escape and join in with the performance.

The ringmaster is really impressed with what the mice are capable of and asks Betsy if she can return the next day for her and her 44 mice to do a performance. Betsy agrees, but knows that this will cause huge issues with her family as she can’t tell them where she’s going. She managed to conjure up some excuses and went and performed. However, from here everything goes a little bit pear-shaped and Betsy finds herself locking horns with the ringmaster.

One thing I really loved about this book is the illustrations throughout which are drawn by Ashley King. They are beautiful. I think the illustrations would really help younger readers imagine the story in their minds.

I think that children, even those older than the 6-9 year old target age range would really like this book. It was a book that I enjoyed and I’m not a child! 

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